Fareshare has revealed it has distributed an additional 6,732 tonnes of food to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, equivalent to 16 million meals.
The charity said government funding along with support from businesses including Asda, Sainsbury’s and XPO Logistics had helped it meet a threefold increase in demand for food at the peak of the crisis.
However, with demand expected to surge again this winter it is urging businesses with available surplus food to work with it to ensure food gets to people who need it most.
Growing numbers of people are facing food insecurity as the pandemic continues to impact on household incomes. Recent Food Foundation figures showed 11% (850,000) of children aged 8-17 reported that either they or their families had visited a food bank in the summer holidays.
Fareshare, meanwhile, said it was bracing itself for “unprecedented demand” this Christmas. “We will continue to work tirelessly to get vital food supplies into communities but in order to sustain food volumes, we encourage any businesses with surplus food to get in touch with FareShare to ensure it gets to those who need it most,” said CEO Lindsay Boswell.
The government has once again found itself at the centre of a row over the provision of free school meals to children during the half-term break. Ministers have so far resisted pressure from campaigners, led by the footballer Marcus Rashford, to provide food vouchers for those eligible for free school meals.
It has also yet to respond formally to recommendations from the government commissioned National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby, which called for an expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on universal credit or equivalent; the expansion of holiday provision via food and activities to support all children on free school meals; and an increase in the value of healthy start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding eligibility to all those on universal credit or equivalent.